Madeleine Sackler’s O.G. is a film that most will have trouble connecting with but that is exactly why everyone should make an effort to see it. Sackler’s film takes a deep look into the intricate workings of prison culture through the perspective of an inmate who has been locked up for over twenty years. Stephen Belber’s narrative gives audiences the feeling of duality as we see the system through the eyes of Louis (Jeffrey Wright) and an upcoming gang banger named Beecher (Theothus Carter). Louis sees a lot of himself in Beecher (including the side which got him locked up in the first place). Wright’s character is faced with the decision of trying to help Beecher or lay low as his parole is up in a few days.
O.G. comes as one of the more authentic prison films (partially due to shooting in an actual working site and the use of inmates in the film) and due to how Belber made use of every moment afforded his characters. One has to remember that every moment in lockup is structured. So during those moments where they were lining up for the shower or to go outside, the dialogue he wrote between Louis and other inmates heighten the authenticity of the piece.
Where the film missteps is when it spends way too much time on Beecher’s story at the expense of Louis’s. While I understand the need to create this connection between the two, the most interesting element of O.G. is not only what put Louis in prison to begin with, but his difficulty coming terms with his time in lockup being over. Less of whether or not Beecher is going to end up in a gang and more of Louis coming to terms with life after twenty-four years in lockup. One of the best scenes in the film was when Wright’s character had to sit in a room and talk with the sister of the man he killed during a robbery. The set-up with simple enough but the tension was powerful, to say the least.
Wright delivers a strong performance and makes this release worth checking out. The subject matter at times will make viewers uneasy but it will enlighten those who don’t know what it’s like on the inside.